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Baldwins Hit the Drink

Sometimes lightening figuratively does strike twice, in this case, in the form of an open swing bridge. One summer day in 1959, a SP freight crew parked their train, the Schelleville Turn, for "beans" (lunch) at a local diner next to an (open) Brazos Drawbridge on the Napa River, south of Napa, California. Nobody bothered to set hand brakes on the equipment, per the rules and good sense. Worse, the engineer - who came to be called "The Admiral" - had forgotten to remove a "plug" from the independent (engine) brake valve, which he illegally used to keep the engine brakes from applying (a lazy man's way to keep engine brakes from setting while moving). During their prolonged lunch, the train brakes bled off, causing the train to roll downhill and into the river. After fishing the train's wrecked Baldwin locos, #'s 5260, 5261 & 4904, out of the drink, they were hauled off to Bayshore for (extensive) repairs. The guy that evidently has nothing better to do than mug for the photos likely is General Shop Foreman Hines. Fred is the guy in the dark coveralls, doing the work. He and his unknown associate are exploring the locomotive's air brake compartment looking for clues about why the brakes "failed".

Fourteen years later, the identical thing happened. The engineer in this later affair was dubbed "The Commodore".